In The Story of My Life he recounts, and reflects on, his more than fifty years as a corporate, labor, and criminal lawyer, including the most celebrated and ...
丹諾自傳 Clarence Darrow 說明
Clarence Darrow, Equal Opportunity Defender
By KEVIN BOYLE
Published: July 8, 2011
Early on the evening of Oct. 28, 1893, 25-year-old Patrick Prendergast came calling at the home of Mayor Carter Harrison of Chicago. The maid asked him to wait in the foyer while she fetched His Honor. But he ran past her and headed down the hall. The commotion drew Harrison out of his library. There was a confrontation. Words were exchanged. Then Prendergast pulled out a revolver and shot the mayor dead.
By Andrew E. Kersten
Illustrated. 306 pp. Hill & Wang. $30.
Attorney for the Damned
By John A. Farrell
Illustrated. 561 pp. Doubleday. $32.50.
Excerpt: ‘Clarence Darrow: American Iconoclast’ (July 10, 2011)
Excerpt: ‘Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned’ (Google Books)
By the end of the year Prendergast had been convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death, even though it was clear to everyone that he was, in the gentle words of a police superintendent, “mad as a March hare.” His family decided to file an appeal. To carry the case they hired a 36-year-old lawyer who, until a few months before, had been Chicago’s assistant corporate counsel. So Clarence Darrow began his long career as America’s greatest criminal attorney by defending the man who had murdered his boss.
From there the roster of notorious clients grew. There were the union militants Eugene Debs, Big Bill Haywood and John J. McNamara; a sprinkling of Communists and anarchists; a handful of corrupt politicians; some homicidal socialites; a host of mobsters; one world-famous architect; and a few people accused of truly heinous crimes: charming young Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, who had killed a child just to see if they could get away with it. Then there were the African-American physician Ossian Sweet, who had dared to move into a white neighborhood in 1920s Detroit, and a Tennessee schoolteacher named John Scopes, who had the audacity to believe that the world wasn’t made in six days. Four decades of courtroom battles — one trial of the century after another. The best of them turned into great dramas of systemic injustice and human frailty, with Darrow always at the center, basking in the spotlight.
He’s never really surrendered it. Leopold and Loeb made it to Hollywood in 1959, with Orson Welles as Darrow, Scopes the next year, this time with Spencer Tracy in the lead. More recently, there’s been a spate of books on Darrow’s most spectacular cases, from J. Anthony Lukas’s “Big Trouble,” on the Haywood trial, to Simon Baatz’s dramatic “For the Thrill of It,” yet another account of Leopold and Loeb. The first major biography appeared in 1931, with some help from Darrow himself, then in the twilight of his career. At least three more have been published since then, including Irving Stone’s classic “Clarence Darrow for the Defense,” a marvel of storytelling, if not always accuracy.
In their fine new biographies, both entitled simply, if unimaginatively, “Clarence Darrow,” Andrew E. Kersten, a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, and John A. Farrell, the author of “Tip O’Neill and the Democratic Century,” do their part in fleshing out the record. Both draw on a recently unearthed cache of Darrow correspondence. And Farrell, in particular, had scoured the country for additional sources. But neither makes any major revelations.
In their telling Darrow is still the dutiful son of a free-thinking father. Shortly before his 30th birthday, he fled small-town Ohio to make his way in the brutal world of late-19th-century Chicago. Representing Patrick Prendergast was a major coup, even if his client did end up on the gallows. But it was his fight to free Eugene Debs, charged with conspiracy for his role in the 1894 Pullman strike, that made Darrow famous. For the next 15 years he was organized labor’s Great Defender, fierce champion of a working class battered by the power of industrial capitalism. Then, in 1911, he was accused of bribing a juror on behalf of union officials about to be convicted of mass murder. Darrow managed to stay out of prison, but the scandal shattered most of his ties to the labor movement.
So, in his mid-50s, he started over. He took to the lecture circuit, slashing away in the years to come at religion, criminal law, capital punishment, Prohibition and the meaning of life. And he shifted his practice to the defense of civil liberties, civil rights and the occasional psychopath. The turn only increased his celebrity. By the 1920s he had become “the attorney for the damned” — the phrase was Lincoln Steffens’s — equal parts idealist, cynic and showman: a perfect folk hero for the modern age.
Kersten concentrates on the idealism. Darrow was an iconoclast, he says, “dedicated to smashing the structures and systems of social control that impinged on the liberties and freedoms of average people.” It’s a fair characterization. But he pushes it a bit too hard, stressing Darrow’s political passions — even the ones that now seem hopelessly arcane, like his deep interest in who controlled Chicago’s streetcar lines — while sliding past those parts of his career that were less than principled. Kersten frames Darrow’s penchant for representing murderers and other criminals, for instance, as the only way he could underwrite his political work. And he doesn’t even mention some of Darrow’s more unseemly efforts, like the case of the good ship Eastland, when labor’s beloved lawyer mounted a defense of the steamboat’s chief engineer, whose negligence had been a cause of the drowning deaths of 844 working people out for a day of fun on the Chicago River.
Farrell has no such compunctions. He agrees that Darrow had core principles. “He was Jefferson’s heir,” he says, “his time’s foremost champion of personal liberty,” raging against the concentration of wealth and power that had accompanied the nation’s industrialization. But Darrow also thought of the law as blood sport. He shamelessly seduced juries with his common man routine — the rumpled suits and suspenders, the gentle country drawl — and his extraordinary closing statements, which he packed with philosophy, poetry and cheap emotions meant to make men cry. Those were the benign manipulations, Farrell argues. In some of his biggest cases Darrow bought the testimony he needed. And when he was apparently caught in the act in 1911, he hired as his counsel the most ruthless criminal lawyer he could find — a flashy-dressing, hard-drinking, anti-union conservative — because there was no point in confusing means and ends.
A similarly callous streak ran through Darrow’s personal life. He divorced his first wife because she wasn’t sophisticated enough; married his second because she doted on him; then took a mistress 21 years his junior. He cheated on his law partners too, handing them work he didn’t want to do and pocketing fees they were supposed to share. And for all his radicalism, Darrow loved a big payday: according to Farrell, he took on Leopold and Loeb, two sons of privilege, primarily because their parents offered him a $65,000 retainer.
Once the deal was struck, though, he gave them a brilliant defense, the horror of their crime buried beneath layers of psychological theory and wrenching appeals for mercy. When he was done, the tears came streaming down his face, because he meant every word he said. That was vintage Darrow, his onetime partner Edgar Lee Masters wrote, “with his young, old heart and . . . his infinite paradox,” inspiring, enraging, and in Farrell’s engrossing biography, marvelously alive.